The Year in Columbus Monthly Personal Essays

A look back at the first-person stories, reflections, reminiscences and humorous columns we published in 2021. (Plus, one poem.)

Suzanne Goldsmith
Columbus Monthly
Hanif Abdurraqib poses in his favorite sunset spot near Miranova in Downtown Columbus.

While the majority of the stories in Columbus Monthly are reported articles, written by journalists, we also make space for more personal storytelling. Most of these pieces appear in our monthly Perspective column, where we invite local writers to share a story or idea that springs from their lived experience. These pieces can be funny, moving, illuminating or surprising—or simply offer a point of view you might not have considered. As the year draws to a close, here’s a look back at the personal essays we published in 2021. (Plus, one poem.)

Columbus Dispatch security officer Phil Gilliland shared his experiences guarding a nearly-empty building during the early months of the pandemic—and putting himself on the line to help Dispatch staffers report the news and stay safe during the racial justice protests in May and June of 2020.

Freelance writer Joy Frank-Collins found humor in the upended traditions of pandemic holidays. Frank-Collins also contributed a prescient reported essay that explored her feelings of anxiety in the spring as so many others celebrated the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

Writer and former Columbus Monthly staffer Katherine Matthews shared her joy and dismay at her husband’s pandemic kitchen takeover.

Retired reporter Sheldon Zoldan recalled his time working for Larry Flynt when Hustler was headquartered in Downtown Columbus.

Guest editor Wil Haygood opened our May issue with a powerful essay that delved into his own uncomfortable experiences with Central Ohio police.

Poet, essayist and Columbus Alive columnist Scott Woods penned an ode to Southfield, the neighborhood where he lost his first street fight, hit his first single and learned a thing or two about defying expectations.

Playwright, dancer and memoirist Alexis Wilson documented her experience helping to create a theater collective for students of color at Olentangy Orange High School.

Photographer and poet Marcus Jackson contributed a paired poem and photo, “Shoeless Acrobatics on High Street.” You can hear him read it at the above link.

Writer Chris DeVille shared the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth under COVID-19 lockdown.

Essayist, poet and recent MacArthur grant recipient Hanif Abdurraqib wrote about his favorite place to enjoy a Columbus sunset.

Columbus Monthly staffer Emma Frankart Henterly described how TikTok helped her diagnose her attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Ohio State law professor Katrina Lee reflected on anti-Asian hate following an incident of harassment in Downtown Columbus.

In an essay adapted from his book “Love, Death and Photosynthesis,” Anyway Records co-founder Bela Koe-Krompecher wrote about his friendship with Jenny Mae Leffel, one of the most unique and troubled talents of Columbus’ 1990s underground music scene.

Retired Denison writing professor Dennis Read shared a poignant memory of his late, pint-sized piano partner.

Author and Ohio Wesleyan writing professor Amy Butcher described her progression from fear to strength in nature in the wake of an abusive relationship.

Writer Dan Williamson proudly recounted his pleasure in attending geezer rock concerts.